Ropes (2019) – Film Review

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Director:  Jose Luis Montesinos
Cast: Paula Del Rio, Miguel Angel Jenner, Jordi Aguilar

Certificate: TBC

By @RogerCrow

Years ago one of the greatest pitches in the history of Hollywood was delivered for a film hardly anyone remembers. The movie was Man’s Best Friend, and the pitch was: “It’s Jaws… with paws”. Now comes a clever Spanish thriller with a similarly brilliant tagline: Beware of the Dog.

The premise: haunted by the death of her sister, Elena, a young quadriplegic, has retired to a country house along with her father. There she has the help of a Belgian Shepherd service dog.

However, when tragedy strikes, the animal who is supposed to be her best friend, has contracted a strange disease… and has turned into her worst enemy.

This often compelling thriller is a film of two halves. It starts off well as the characters and premise are introduced. When the young heroine is left alone, what begins is not so much a ‘cat and mouse’ game but a mix of Gravity, Cujo and the end of Aliens.

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“Interesting variation on familiar themes”

There’s also an element of What Lies Beneath as the heroine tries to stay alive despite limited movement. It’s a great idea and there are times it borders on greatness. But by the half way mark I’ll admit I’m a little bored.

In the hands of a genius like writer Brian Clemens, this would have worked far better, but there are just a few too many moments of a seemingly invincible antagonist causing chaos – and chances are animal lovers will hate it.

As good as Paula Del Rio is, and she carries 99 per cent of the film, there were a few too many scenes of her tackling her demons.

Thankfully the running time is spot on, and while Jose Luis Montesinos knows how to craft a tense thriller, there was something missing. It might have been the fact it felt so much like Cujo, or that there wasn’t enough material to sustain a feature.

However, in a world of formulaic thrillers this was an interesting variation on familiar themes, and I can see Hollywood adapting it for their own ends in the near future. Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown would be a perfect lead, though hopefully they’ll change the key predator. I much prefer my movie pets on the cuddly side rather than killer canines, thanks very much.

Ropes will be on Digital Download from 19th November

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